Many recruiting and talent acquisition leaders talk about candidate experience and the newest strategies to successfully improve the lives of their candidates. But, the candidate's perspective and thoughts are rarely included in this discussion.
If we're trying to improve the candidate experience, shouldn't the candidate be the focal point?
To get true insight on the candidate experience, we interviewed a current job candidate. This is what his journey has been thus far in his job search.
Disclaimer: We changed this job candidate's name for privacy reasons and are not mentioning any other specific names of individuals or companies.
A Day In The Life Of A Candidate, Inspired By True Events
Adam is currently seeking new employment. He has worked in the technology startup scene for years and years with experience at startups that were acquired, those that grew to large businesses and everything in between.
As is typical in the technology world, Adam followed mentors from opportunity to opportunity in the past. Now, he is in a position where he'd like to start searching for a new job independently.
Adam was referred to a job in the sales department at a large corporate organization, and he has applied to dozens of other openings at various organizations.
Being a candidate today means hearing the same, robotic interview over and over again from recruiters during the phone screen stage.
"Is now still a good time to chat?"
That was the opening line Adam heard from nearly every recruiter to begin his phone interviews. "It's frustrating," he mentioned. Hearing that phrase makes the interviewer sound unprepared when, on the other hand, Adam prepared and was excited for this conversation since applying. He also expressed how disheartening it is to hear this time and time again from recruiters as if they don't care and are following a script. These introductions are not personal and "it comes across as so inauthentic," according to Adam.
So right off the bat, phone interviews are leaving a poor taste in candidates' mouths. That can be resolved with enthusiasm and insight from recruiters. But, it all goes down hill again when hiring managers enter the mix.
Adam recalled one experience in particular where he was referred to a position at a corporate organization for a sales role. He mentioned that it felt as though the hiring manager was setting "land mines" and really focused on their perceived flaws of him rather than finding his strengths.
Adam's background working in multiple startup environments can be a true testament to his work ethic and collaborative perspective. To this hiring manager, though, it was an opportunity to disregard his candidacy. "We spent twenty minutes of the thirty minute phone call talking about my startup experience. I really wanted to learn more about the job," he said. "She asked, 'tell me what you love about working at startups,' when of course that answer would be used against me working at a corporate organization."
The interview ended abruptly and Adam gained extremely little insight into the company or the position itself. What should have been a conversation was more of an interrogation.
Now, Adam is floating around in the ever-famous candidate black hole with this company.
Where Candidate Experience Stands Today
To say being a candidate today is frustrating is an understatement. Adam experienced disingenuous, lack-luster, accusatory interviews. And this happened multiple times.
It's hard for candidates to learn about a company and about the position they're interviewing for given this interview format. It's hard to say what hiring managers and recruiters are even learning about their candidates.
It sounds like the candidate experience absolutely needs improvement. But to make appropriate changes, organizations should actually listen and learn from their candidates' interview experiences.